UPDATE: Excellent blog and thoughts on this by Rob Ratke, Executive Director of Episcopal Relief and Development. You can read it here
I know so many of you are concerned about the historic flooding in Houston, and the destruction and displacement of so many all along the Texas coast. As a former resident of the Diocese of Texas, and Austin and Beaumont specifically, I share that special concern. I have many friends there. I communicated today with Bishop Andy Doyle, Bishop of Texas. He shared his thanksgiving for all the prayers and concerns and asked that those continue. He suggested that people give directly, by going to the websites of the dioceses affected, which are the Diocese of West Texas and the Diocese of Texas. He stated that equally useful would be giving directly to Episcopal Relief and Development through their website with funds directed to Harvey Relief. He stated that ERD is also keeping a register for any who are willing to travel to, and offer assistance in, the affected areas should that become necessary and desired.
Some have already suggested that I, and other church leaders should be calling on people to go and help in the area. Quite frankly, the last thing many of these areas need is a surge of people who desire to help but who are not connected to organized and trained relief organizations. A key thing I would suggest promoting in this time is the proactive preparation for such events. If you are interested in going to such areas when these events occur, you should seriously consider getting trained ahead of time. Many organizations, such as the Red Cross, require people to be trained before they can serve as a volunteer in disaster zones. Preparation needs to occur before the disaster, not in the midst of it. If you have a strong desire to go now, for now, channel that into a commitment to be trained so that you are prepared and ready to go whenever a need arises. For the Red Cross you can find out about training as a volunteer here
ERD has also put together some resources for your use in Sunday bulletins and newsletters. You can find that information here
Please continue your prayers for all the people in the path of Harvey and those affected by the aftermath. I will keep you posted as relief efforts evolve.